UK and Ireland's Common Travel Area to continue after Brexit

FILE PHOTO: Simon Coveney, Ireland's Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs attends the funeral service for murdered journalist Lyra McKee at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast, Northern Ireland April 24, 2019. Brian Lawless/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

DUBLIN (Reuters) - The United Kingdom and Ireland signed a deal on Wednesday that ensures their citizens will retain the right to live and work in each other’s countries after Britain leaves the European Union.

The agreement secures the continuation of the Common Travel Area (CTA) that has been in place since 1922, when 26 of Ireland’s 32 counties broke away from the United Kingdom to form an independent state.

Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding signed on Wednesday, free movement of people between Britain and Ireland, and mutual access for citizens to social security, health and education will continue after Brexit.

The CTA also enshrines a reciprocal right for citizens to vote in local and national parliamentary elections.

Until now, the CTA’s provisions were found in disparate pieces of legislation and bilateral administrative agreements, while some overlapped with EU rules.

“The CTA is a practical demonstration of the enduring strength of the British-Irish relationship and of our people-to-people ties,” said Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney, who signed the deal in London with British Prime Minister Theresa May’s de facto deputy David Lidington.

“British citizens will continue to be able to travel freely, live, study, and work in Ireland into the future. I welcome the similar commitment and welcome of the UK Government for Irish citizens in Britain,” Coveney said.

Reporting by Graham Fahy; Editing by Catherine Evans